“There ain’t a lot that you can do in this town,
You drive down to the lake, and then you turn back around.”
“Someday” – Steve Earle
We spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend in my hometown of Concord, where all the men are Republican and all the ladies can make at least one casserole that freezes well.
Concord has changed a lot since I was a little girl and since its residents voted to drink in the local restaurants rather than drive to Charlotte and back. Also, there’s Concord Mills and The Grand Wolf Lodge-something-or-other. And the newscasters will tell you now that the Speedway is located in Concord, not Charlotte, which gives the rednecks one less thing to yell at the TV.
I like Concord. It was a safe, happy place in which to grow up. But I wouldn’t want to live there now, mainly ‘cause all my stuff is in Garner.
Garner. Oh, Garner. Sigh. Just outside of Raleigh and yet sooo far away. And home to those who don a faded pair of hotpants, some thigh-high boots and a “His Princess” sweatshirt to do their weekly shopping at Walmart. The Anointed Comb beauty parlor and Toot N Tell restaurant are located in Garner, as well as White Oak Grill, the only bar I’ve ever, ever come across that serves breakfast.
And you can walk anywhere in Garner. Anywhere. On the sidewalks, through others’ yards and across the grassy median of busy Highway 70 during rush hour. Or you can just shun the sidewalks, medians and yards all together and walk straight down the middle of the road. Whatever. Those in cars will just have to get over it.
Garner is Evie’s hometown. Did I mention that it’s just outside of Raleigh? That’s Raleigh: home to the Natural History Museum and Blue Ridge Art Museum and NC State University and Meredith College and the Rialto theater and countless restaurants and shops and things to do and see. Raleigh. Oh, Raleigh. Sigh.
Garner’s not so bad, really. We have two Targets and a cute little library and a really nice park. It’s inexpensive to live in Garner, most of the schools are very good, and the policemen don’t seem to have much to do, which I assume means there’s not much crime. Well, except for the aforementioned rogue walking wherever the hell you please.
I wonder what Evie’s memories will be of her hometown. Little kids don’t see things the same as their parents do, and most people carry a certain degree of fondness for the place where they grew up. I will say this: Garner’s charm lies in its authenticity. For all of Raleigh’s intellectual and cultural luxury, there exists an artificialness in parts of it. Garner may be what it is, but that is real, baby. I’d like for Evie to grow up around that.
Because down here in Garner folks are just trying to earn a living, raise their families and maybe splurge a little now and then on the good beer. And, brother, that’s all right by me.
(By the way, Evie wants you to know that her Pop had surgery yesterday and is recovering very well. Pop had to have his knee replaced due to injuries he sustained while over in ‘Nam and NOT because of too many pickup basketball games played when he was a lad or because of arthritis.)
How you gonna keep her in the city once she’s been down on the farm?